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  • The Birth of Smart Dental Chairs

The Birth of Smart Dental Chairs

Smart Dental Chairs

In 10 years time, having a connected dental chair will just be expected!

To declare at the outset, I’m a gadget guy, I routinely converse with Siri and Alexa, I swoon over shiny new Mac’s and the iPhone and watch combination never leave my side. Don’t miss-read me, I value my down time, all work and social media is no way to live; but toss those CD’s and DVD’s and pass me Spotify and Netflix.

Of course all this screen time takes its toll, nothing like decompressing on the drive home; keyless start, radar cruise control, automated lane keeping tech, climate control, and that little thing that goes bing when there is a car in my blind spot. Geek heaven in wrapped in an affordable family car, and the amazing thing is, all this technology just works and we don’t question it.

There is an area of life that I really haven’t reconciled. With ubiquitous adaption technology for comfort and safety, why is the dental equipment that occupies so much of your day so technologically speaking; dumb? Surely a touch of automation will go such a long way to make you more comfortable and productive now, and how will it serve you in the future?

At Henry Schein we’ve got it pretty well nailed on the quality offering stakes when it comes to dental equipment. With Morita, KaVo and Planmeca our showrooms will surround you with equipment that you can build a successful practice around. Better yet we truly understand that your success is the key to our future as well. In our showrooms you’ll be shopping at the top shelf in terms of quality and longevity. We know our equipment is a sound investment and you’ll be supported and backed by Australia’s largest service network that you helped us build. Moreover with other like-minded clients investing in the quality brands our support grows and constantly improves.

What we rarely talk about however is how affordable the next generation of dental chairs are nowadays. The chairs that have just a touch of geekiness about them; the path to the smarter office. I suspect about now I may have lost you as you may be thinking big Lexus, Beamer and Merc prices; I’d like to assure you we’re not thinking that; we’re talking Mazda 6, Toyota Camry and Subaru Outback prices, truly middle of the road.

Planmeca is an example of a company that is doing amazing things. They are a young and energetic, family owned factory. Based in Helsinki Finland, they have clear focus of creating quality products. With local universities feeding them with technology focused engineering students, they participate and sponsor youth challenges in technology looking for the next smart idea or innovative solution. Moreover, being a captain of Finnish industry, they are immersed in the culture and design that we associate with the Nordic countries; stylish, smart, energy and space efficient design that enhance life.

Take that culture and plug it into Planmeca, the world’s largest privately owned dental equipment manufacturer who just about made the €750 million turnover last year. You’ll have a R&D powerhouse, an amazingly forward thinking organisation and contributor to our dental society.In their 45 years or so Planmeca worked established themselves as leaders in 2D and 3D imaging, as well as an integrated dental CAD/CAM, (scan, print and mill) provider. With this and their all-in-one Romexis software solution, Planmeca have created an all-round connected and open ecosystem with a solid eye to future developments.

Planmeca has just released the 5th generation of the Compact unit the i5. This is an amazing unit at a family car budget all controlled through a smart phone like touch-screen. Periodically, as with your smart phone, Planmeca add functionality through free updates. Practically this means efficiency, comfort and user controls that can be updated. In this context, I’m not referring to the class leading comfort of their ultra-upholstery, rather comfort by way of examples; a light that dims or turns on and off when you move the patient (you don’t want to dazzle your patient), the balance of the handpiece system your hand, the touch screen control can also be your mouse or keyboard for your PC to aid in infection control. Add your tablet into your workflow with iRomexis, setting up for an x-ray or simply showing your intra oral images so you can communicate with your patient in a very social way, comfortable familiar and really natural adjunct to your working day.

Planmeca’s technology also brings automation. You’d expect that if you lifted a high quality camera that it would be instantly on and ready to use, some units do this, that the foot control freezes it and also saves it to your data base, very few can do that. A doctors control guides you through user settings and maintenance procedures or a screen that shows you integrated patient solutions whether that’s at the chair, or on a PC, Mac or tablet.

RFID is the technology we use to PayWave our way into cashless society; if you’re a larger practice, it’s possible for your personalised unit preferences travel with you on a RFID card, by tapping on when you sit at the chair for your preferences to be automatically set. Planmeca has been offering this as an option for over a year. Imagine what will come with that technology as your patients add smart watches and phones that have the same technology. Some would appreciate if the unit could help validate it’s care and maintenance, to offer help or prompt when a service call or help is required. Perhaps you’d like to be able to check to see a record of the daily and weekly maintenance to validate that is been completed; this is all part of the unit’s capability now.

If you have a couple of practices or a couple of hundred, Planmeca chairs are part of that new Internet of Things (IoT). This means whether online or locally you can choose to monitor your chair, x-ray or CAD/CAM to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Planmeca assets. Perhaps something as simple as having a quick look to see if your new employees are working comfortably with the units without errors. You could even check to see if the patient is in the chair yet on your smart phone as you ponder the efficiency of the public transport system. Again all possible right now with 2018 units.

This may all sound a little much, perhaps even a bit out there and unnecessary. We’d like to offer a counterpoint; the chair you’re shopping for today will likely be with you well into 2030. With the rapid growth in the connectivity of ‘things’ it’s not difficult to conceive that in 10 years time, as part of effective practice management having a connected dental chair will just be expected, allowing service to login to help, staff to measure and validate, practice business planning to consult and utilise, enabling staff to prepare and assist in treatment.

With Planmeca we’re there right now a great new chair, ergonomics, instrumentation and connectivity. Even if you chose not to right now, later it can be online, it can be one of those Internet of Things devices, just waiting for you to connect. I’d like to extend an invitation for you to drop in and ask us the important questions; how will this chair improve my day, my practice and my patient outcomes. Planmeca has some great answers for you, as do all our partners including KaVo Kerr and Morita with impeccable credentials for quality, design and manufacture. We’ll look forward to helping you in your practice needs.

Clive Dodd

Product Manager - Dental Chairs

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